Apple assembles chip team

Apple is breaking the mould yet again. While other phone and device makers are cutting back it is expanding, and into a new area that goes against grain of the entire consumer electronics industry: it is going to design its own chips.

The first clue was when Apple bought start-up PA last spring to acquire expertise on how best to run the sophisticated software on its iconic iPhone and iTouch devices.

Now it is assembling a team of chip designers so that it will be able to offer unique features and keep its plans secret from rivals, according to the Wall Street Journal.

There is speculation that Apple could design new chips to reduce the amount of power consumed by the iTouch and iPhone, and perhaps add graphics capability so that users can play more realistic games and watch HD-TV.

The WSJ says Apple recently hired, among others, Raja Koduri, formerly CTO of the graphics products at AMD and Bob Drebin, another former incumbent of that position at AMD. Dozens of online job adverts describe the chip-related positions Apple is keen to fill.

It adds most mobiles are based on chip designs licensed by ARM Holdings. Samsung Electronics  supplies an ARM-based microprocessor with custom features developed by Apple for the iPhone. Apparently there have been concerns that design information could be leaked to would-be rivals.